With the level of technology that many companies are utilizing in their infrastructure today, it is important to understand different cable types and what you need in order to keep your infrastructure up and running. Understanding and correctly utilizing shielded and unshielded cables is one of the primary things that will help things function smoothly.
What is a Shielded Cable?
Shielded cables are electrical cables that contain insulating conductors encased in a standard conductive layer. The shield can be made from strands of braided copper (or a similar metal), a spiral copper tape, or some other conducting polymer. The importance of shielded cables cannot be stressed enough.
Shielded cables are usually thicker and more rigid than unshielded cables. They also require greater care when working with them. Shielded cables are most often found in industrial settings and installations where other nearby equipment is likely to generate electromagnetic interference.
There are many types of cable shields available commercially, and usage depends on the application.
- Combination shields
- Foil Shields
- Metallic Braid Shields
- Spiral Shields
- Serve Shields
- Tape Shields
What is Shielded Cable Used For?
Shielded cables are used to protect the data being transferred through the cable from degradation by EMI exposure, which is common in data centers, industrial settings, offices, and other settings where computer technology, electrical equipment, or electronic equipment is in heavy use.
When to Use Unshielded Cable
Unshielded cable does not utilize shielding to reduce interference. Unshielded cable is typically used for office networks and similar network cabling systems. While offering less protection from interference, unshielded cables are popular because they are:
- Easy to install
Guidelines for Effective Cable Shielding
- Make sure you have a cable with sufficient shielding for the application’s needs. In moderately noisy environments, a foil alone may provide adequate protection. In noisier environments, consider braids or foil-braid combinations.
- Use a cable suited to the application. Cables that experience repeated flexing usually use a spirally-wrapped shield rather than a braid. Avoid foil-only shielding on flex cables since continuous flexing can tear the foil.
- Make sure the equipment that the cable is connected to is properly grounded. Use an earth ground wherever possible and check the connection between the ground point and the equipment. Eliminating noise depends on a low resistance path to the ground.
- Most connector designs allow full 360° termination of the shield. Make sure the connector offers shielding effectiveness equal to that of the cable. For example, many common connectors are offered with metal-coated plastic, cast zinc, or aluminum backshells. Avoid both overspecifying and paying for more than you need or under specifying and getting poor shielding performance.
- Ground the cable at one end. This eliminates the potential for noise-inducing ground loops.
A shielded system is only as good as its weakest component. A high-quality cable is defeated by a low-quality connector. Similarly, a great connector can’t do anything to improve a poor cable.
Shielded Cables From Quadrangle Products
Quadrangle Products manufactures high quality custom shielded cable assemblies. Irrespective of the length and purpose, Quadrangle Products can make custom shielded cable assemblies to fit your needs. Each custom cable assembly is built to our customers’ specifications and is 100% quality tested. Our Engineers have designed over 10,000 unique cables and are part of the design process from start to finish, ensuring that each and every customer receives exactly what they are looking for.
Allow us to help you with your custom shielded cable requirements. We strive to make sure you receive the best solution for your data transfer and other cable needs. We create cables for a wide range of industries including aviation, medical, and defense.
Quadrangle Products Inc. is a Certified ISO 9001:20015 contract manufacturer of wire harnesses and custom cable assemblies with over 30 years of leading industry experience and support. Learn more about other types of cables we offer: